x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

My Car: Affectionate Audi A6 woos with 'pure comfort'

Youssef El Deeb, a TV chef and Audi A6 driver, dreams of creating a programme that fuses cooking and cars.

Youssef El Deeb, outside his office in Dubai, treasures his Audi A6, which he decided on after test driving both it and its larger counterpart, the A8. Satish Kumar for The National
Youssef El Deeb, outside his office in Dubai, treasures his Audi A6, which he decided on after test driving both it and its larger counterpart, the A8. Satish Kumar for The National

As the boss of Fatafeat, the Middle East's most popular television network for foodies, it's no surprise Youssef El Deeb believes there's a strong relationship between driving and eating.

Half-Egyptian and half-Lebanese, the 55-year-old CEO has been living in the UAE for almost eight years and has driven his trusty Audi A6 since buying it new in 2007.

El Deeb chose the car after a tough decision between the A6 and the bigger A8, but was determined to buy an Audi as he felt the car maker offered practical luxury and safety while remaining a little more discrete than its competitors. "I test drove an A8 before going for the A6, but felt like a chauffeur as there was far too much space inside. The A6 was just perfect for me - it practically hugged me when I first drove it - pure comfort with hardly any noise from the engine," he explains.

It didn't take long for the safety features of the A6 to be tested as, within only a few weeks of purchasing the car, a taxi drove into the driver's side at around 50kph and things didn't quite add up to El Deeb at the time.

"It just didn't fit - there was no need for the car to hit me and certainly not at such speed. I was no doubt in shock and everything was a bit blurry, but I can remember thinking this wasn't just a normal collision," he says.

The police were quickly on the scene and, amid the commotion, they determined the dazed but unhurt taxi driver had fallen asleep at the wheel. "He was very lucky no one was injured and that he was wearing a seat belt," says El Deeb, "although he was crying with his head in his hands as he knew he would lose his job."

And El Deeb was amazed to have the badly damaged Audi back and completely repaired within only 10 days of the accident. "It was so hassle-free I couldn't help but feel sorry for the poor, old, overtired taxi driver," he says.

El Deeb opens up about his idea for a television series about cars and cooking. "I drive for pleasure and also eat for pleasure, so I've always thought the idea of a quality motoring show that combines cars and cooking would bring in the female audience while also appealing to men - it's a winning formula. Out and about in the car would be the main principle of the show, with food and cooking featuring in every episode. For instance, many of us like to stop and eat when driving on a day trip or a weekend away. Even when driving to dinner in the evening - it's nice to roll up to your favourite restaurant or hotel in your pride and joy for some great food with someone special in your life.

El Deeb said he would "also love the show to popularise the European tradition of picnicking". "I don't even know where to find a picnic basket in the Middle East; my wife and I have looked. There are amazing places in the country to drive to and enjoy a delicious spread in the great outdoors - perhaps after the summer though," he laughs.

"It's also about giving more information to women about cars and I truly believe women are underserviced here, with macho car magazines and highly technical reviews on vehicles usually the only option. Most women like the way a car looks and enjoy driving, so there's definitely potential."

When asked whether he would consider trading his car for something else, El Deeb doesn't miss a beat: "Why aren't there many electric cars in the UAE? Do you know where I could buy one as they would be fantastic fun to drive. Maybe someone will read this and send me one," ponders El Deeb. Food for thought for any UAE-based distributors out there.